Stranded in Middle Earth

My regular readers know that I generally write about current events, theology and geopolitics in a testimonial style and live my life to maximize my experience-based insights. Much of what I experience is directed more by God than by myself, and I have learned to simply follow His leading whenever there are turns in the road I didn’t plan. A frequent challenge is to trust Him regardless of the way things look and seem in these transitions. I write to you today from one of the most challenging side trails He has ever taken us on.

Anne and I usually take our annual vacation in January and or February, and we increasingly favor cruises because shipboard life is most accommodating of Anne’s severe degenerative scoliosis. I wanted this year’s cruise to be extra special because I don’t know how long her declining mobility will last, so I booked a short segment of a world cruise that embarked in Los Angeles and disembarked in Sydney, Australia. Now, we had been to Sydney before without any need for a visa and thus were surprised to arrive on Jan. 18 at the pier in L.A. to find a visa requirement had since been imposed on Americans. The cruise line insisted we could not board without one, and so we joined the approximately 200 other people scrambling to use the online visa application which in most cases granted one immediately. In the midst of that the site crashed, so the ship staff said we could board if we could show proof of a completed application and acceptance of payment. Thankfully, we had gotten that far in the process before the crash.

One day later Anne’s visa was granted. I was required to provide more information such as proof of financial ability to support myself in Australia (even though I would be there less than a day – to catch a flight home). That led to another request for more information, including an extensive questionnaire that required me to create an immigration account and upload documents. I received another email verifying my completion of the process and another payment, including a promise I would get a response by email. That was on Jan. 29. One week later I still had no visa and began to get concerned, so I replied to one previous email that seemed to have come from a real person, titling it “Urgent ETA Inquiry.” I explained that (per Australian law) my handicapped wife and I would be ejected (in Dunedin, New Zealand) from the ship on Feb. 10 for lack of a visa because was the last port before Sydney. That email (obviously not to a human being) triggered another demand for creating an immigration account and uploading more information – which, when I tried, rejected my effort because I already had an account.

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Recognizing then that I was either trapped in a closed-loop computer-controlled AI hell with no human oversight or I was being targeted for my political views by ultra-woke DEI hires in the Aussi immigration bureaucracy, I started making contingency plans. I discovered that Dunedin, home of a huge international medical university catering largely to Chinese students was celebrating Chinese New Year, and every reasonably priced hotel room in the city was booked. So instead I booked one of the last available rental cars at the airport for pickup on the morning of Feb. 11 and arranged for the ship to let us disembark at 5:30 a.m., just ahead of its departure from port at 6 a.m. Originally, the ship was to have left the afternoon of the 10th, but a severe storm off the southern coast caused them to delay, and so (we rejoiced) we could have one last night on the ship, pick up our car, and drive west to Queenstown near many filming locations for the “Lord of the Rings” movies.

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However, on Feb. 10 as I was leaving the ship to pick up my rental car to park it near the pier for our early morning Feb 11 disembarkation, I was encouraged by a staff member on the ship to try again to get an “instant” visa because that had worked for many other people onboard in my situation. So, giving up my rental car reservation (by simply being a no show), I stayed onboard, did the retry and paid another fee. But instead of getting an instant visa, I got an email message saying I would receive a response within 72 hours. Still holding out hope, I checked my email every few minutes for the next three hours. Finally, I returned to the front desk to see if anything had come through on their end.

No such luck, but to my shock a cold and stern security office came up as I stood in a crowd in the lobby and demanded that I immediately gather my belongings and get off the ship, as if I were a criminal. “We have confirmed arrangements to disembark at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow,” I said. “That will not be possible,” he replied, adding, “The immigration official is right now waiting to process your disembarkation to New Zealand.” I replied, “Your agent assured me we could disembark tomorrow morning, and you have a legal obligation to honor that. You’re telling me I and my handicapped wife are being forced off the ship with no hotel rooms available in town.” He replied, “Whoever told you that made a mistake.”

Having no recourse, we were in fact required to disembark into the bitter cold evening winds (the southern hemisphere equivalent of a polar vortex was peaking). Thankfully, the port agent who had come onboard with the immigration official was able to reserve a hotel room for us in a nice hotel and to arrange taxi service to get there. I thought at first these were being provided by the cruise line as a courtesy, but learned that was not true when we left the taxi and were asked for payment.

The next day, there being not a single rental car available in Dunedin, we caught the bus to Queenstown where we were able to book a flight to Sydney that will allow us connect with our already scheduled flight back home. And because we’re arriving at the airport and not a cruise dock, there is no visa requirement. The one redeeming aspect of this change of circumstances is that we get to see one of the most magnificent and beautiful regions of the world – and have booked a bus tour of LOTR film sites for this afternoon.

How is any of this relevant to my readers? I believe what Anne and I have endured is a tiny glimpse into the future of AI-controlled humanity. There is no good reason for Australian Immigration to have these problems – and I can tell you that every single New Zealander I’ve mentioned our plight to has related similar horror stories of their own or their friends. Further, two fellow travelers on this ship had it even worse (at least in the application process). One was required to get a full medical exam and a blood test. The other was forced to produce the death certificate of their grandparent (or parent) who’d been deceased for decades. Bizarre – as if some sadist with a creative imagination is randomly tormenting applicants – but I believe it’s all computer driven and not human controlled. That’s much worse, frankly, because at least a bad human can have a change of heart. Robots, however, and that’s really what were talking about here, are truly heartless – and truly mindless, because AI will never be anything but computer programming, no matter how sophisticated it gets.

Yesterday, I finally got a response to my third application. It instructed me to create an account on their immigration website.

Folks, if there is any chance at all of escaping this nightmare on a grand global scale it can only be by preserving human to human alternatives to the artificial world. I’ve drafted sample legislation that could do that, and I offer it now as a free public domain resource. Take it to your legislators and get it passed while there’s still time.

The Natural Life Conservation Act

To be adopted as a State Constitutional Amendment where possible, but otherwise by statute.

“No product, service or information-sharing transaction important for the functioning of citizens in their day to day lives, shall be available exclusively on the internet, but in all such interactions, most especially those involving government or corporate entities, the ability to easily and conveniently live ones life outside the digital world shall be preserved as a sacred and fundamental natural right.”

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